By JEFF BARTL, Associated Press
A cushy portion of their schedule has helped the San Antonio Spurs get off to a solid start, but they realize tougher teams await down the road.
The struggling Boston Celtics likely aren't on that list.
San Antonio should be well-rested as it seeks an eighth straight victory while looking to deal visiting Boston a fifth consecutive defeat Wednesday night.
The Spurs (9-1) haven't lost since falling at Portland on Nov. 2, and they've won their last four by an average of 19.3 points after beating Utah 91-82 on Friday.
Each of those victories have come against teams with sub-.500 records, though, and Tony Parker knows it won't be that easy the rest of the way.
"Our schedule is going to become tougher and we're going to play better teams," said Parker, who scored a game-high 22 points in the latest win. "I think we're doing pretty good, but I think we can do a lot better because we know at the end of the year where we want to be."
After facing Boston (4-8), San Antonio visits Memphis (6-5) on Friday before home games Saturday and Monday against Cleveland (4-7) and New Orleans (4-6). It plays Oklahoma City one week from Wednesday.
"If we respect (the Celtics) like we are playing Oklahoma City or Memphis or Golden State, then we'll be in good shape," Manu Ginobili said.
The Spurs shouldn't have much trouble being prepared for this contest after having a four-day break since their last game.
"I think everybody could use it," Parker said. "It's good rest at the right time."
Boston won't get much rest after falling 109-85 to Houston on Tuesday, losing for the fourth time after winning four straight. Jeff Green hit 2 of 7 from the field and finished with four points after shooting 0 for 6 and scoring two in a loss to Minnesota on Saturday to begin the team's three-game road trip.
Green averaged 17.6 points over his previous seven games for the Celtics, who have struggled at times with a revamped roster under first-year coach Brad Stevens.
"We got used to playing the Celtics with a different personnel," Ginobili said. "We don't know them as well. We just have to prepare for them like we prepare for any other team."
Boston has averaged only 88.0 points during its skid and will face a Spurs team that ranks third in the league giving up an average of 89.3. It shot a season-worst 32.3 percent Tuesday.
''I want to make sure we don't play like that again,'' Stevens said. ''There are games where things just don't go your way, but we're letting one end affect the other, and you don't do that against good teams.''
Tim Duncan scored five points and shot 2 of 13 from the field in the last meeting with the Celtics on Dec. 15, but Parker netted a game-high 22 in a 103-88 win.
Duncan went 5 of 27 from the field and totaled 21 points over his previous three games before hitting 7 of 16 and scoring 14 points in Friday's victory that wasn't decided until the Spurs went on a fourth-quarter run.
''We use the first three quarters to learn and see what we need to adjust," Duncan said. "Then the fourth quarter comes around and we know exactly what we want to do and we have the right set of guys on the floor that are willing to do it."
San Antonio has won three straight meetings with Boston.
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